Saturday, May 30, 2015


I heard this term recently and didn't know what it was.  Have you heard of uptakes?  It is when your research is put out in the world, takes flight and whatever happens to it (creates change, is dismissed, is misconstrued, and so on) is the uptake. Uptakes are hard to measure, have a bad response rate (usually 1 out of 5 uptakes is considered good, and takes a long time to trickle down).  I recently heard that any new idea presented by a researcher in education takes about 30 years to hit the classroom.  Now that's just sad!  Slow progress!

Here is an article trying to clarify the jargon.

The quote I liked best was "Ideas need time to mature, be tested, replicated, adopted, adapted, popularised, forgotten, rediscovered, etc. The real contribution of a body of research can only be judged in hindsight."


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Avoiding IRF

Have you heard of IRF?

It is a pattern of talking and listening that happens frequently between teachers and students.

The teachers asks something, the student responds, the teacher makes a comment and then you move on.

It is not a great example of deep and meaningful listening and speaking opportunity.

Here's the formal description:

Initiation-response-feedback (IRF)

Initiation-response-feedback, or IRF, is a pattern of discussion between the teacher and learner. The teacher initiates, the learner responds, the teacher gives feedback. This approach to the exchange of information in the classroom has been criticized as being more about the learner saying what the teacher wants to hear than really communicating.

Example:  The teacher asks a learner for rules about use of the present perfect, the learner gives an answer, and the teacher says whether that is correct or not.

Although this approach has been criticized, it can provide a useful framework for developing meaningful communication in a controlled form. For example, there is room for authentic input in an IRF dialogue such as:

- How many brothers have you got?
- Three!
- Oh so you've got three brothers! That's a big family! Etc.

The key is to use EXPANDED feedback with follow up questions.  The students should be talking more than the teacher and should feel HEARD.

Go here for more info:


Saturday, May 23, 2015

What's New in Books?

Want to know some sites to help with book recommendations for teachers?  

These two are great! Peggy Sharp has since retired but was a vast resource for best book pics.  She is now a library consultant.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Library Visit

As you know, I tour libraries whenever I can.  The kids and I went to a newly opened library that not only had a huge selection of children's books but some pretty cool library decorations.  I have a soft spot for library decorations from my inner city teaching days when the library was in desperate need of a makeover.  We'll definitely go back to this one.  


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Library Statues

My children and I chanced upon these statues at the library of children reading and had to stop and have a photo-shoot with them.  There was lots of hugging, climbing and sitting on laps.  Followed by hand sanitizer.  My million dollar mansion will have some of these in the front yard one day.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Reading in bed

Here's my first grader making me proud as we argue about "Five more minutes, Mom!"


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Public Speaking Zoo

I've used this activity for years with children and adults.  It can be a great mini lesson in alignment with the Listening and Speaking Common Core standards.  

First video tape the group speaking.  

Then teach about the animals in the zoo.  They represent what people do when speaking in front of others.  I tend to be a cheetah or a hippo.  

Have them identify what they think they might be.  Make predictions.  

Then watch the tape with no sound and identify what animal each speaker is.  

Make a visual reminder for each speaker of the animal as a way to remember to avoid these kind of distractions when public speaking.  

Public Speaking Zoo

Hyena – laughs constantly
Flamingo – stands on one foot
Mouse – whispers or talks too softly
Tiger –paces back and forth
Hippo – leans against something
Peacock – fluffing or twirling hair
Monkey – scratches their body often
Owl – hides or lowers head behind something
Cat - Licks their fingers when passing things out
Hummingbird - Voice shakes when speaking
Lion – talks too loudly
Cheetah - Talks too fast

Turtle - Talks too slow


Saturday, May 2, 2015


The Lindamood or LIPS program is often used by speech therapists to help students understand what your mouth and breath should be doing when saying the letters.  It is often done with a little hand mirror nearby.  For example, the letter "H" has air exhale while sometimes the "K" sound can inhale (especially if you are a singer) or exhale.  Most kids have "R" articulation issues.  

As a reading specialist, I've used parts of this program with struggling reading working on phonemic awareness, or with English Language Learners who are comparing first and second languages.  Our "E" is different than the spanish "E."  

If you are interested in learning more, ask your local speech teacher.  They are fountains of untapped support for the early reading teacher.